If you're introverted you'll find there's no shortage of content online telling you to change just one thing and your life will be incredible, and you'll be a successful business owner. What if you could be you in all your introverted glory and still be a successful business owner?
There is no shortage of evidence available that introverts can be highly successful people. In fact, there is already a strong history of introverts who have done just that. This includes former Prime Ministers Gordon Brown and Theresa May, Billionaires Bill Gates and JK Rowling, Emma Watson (activist and actor) as well as Albert Einstein, Mahatma Ghandi, Christina Aguilera, Audrey Hepburn and Warren Buffet.
Another famous introvert is lecturer and author of the bestselling books Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and Quiet Revolution: Unlocking the Power of Introverts, Susan Cain. Cain has enjoyed great success in her own right as an introvert and believes introverts are poised for great success as business owners and more. You just need to learn how to make your mark. Here you will find 21 ways you can be a successful business owner as an introvert.
- Learn to network on your own terms.
Networking is a constant struggle for introverts. It's draining to be around so many people and it takes time to recover your energy. Unfortunately, when you own your own business it’s necessary to make connections that will build your business. The good news is you can find ways to make networking work for you. There's nothing to stop you networking online and in small communities. In fact, some of the very best communities are small communities that meet up occasionally. Just ask in your safe social media areas for recommendations for a small group but active groups on your favorite platform.
- Find good mentors and work with them.
Starting your own business is stressful. There are a lot of moving parts to manage. Working with a mentor not only gives you access to advice and guidance from someone who has been there and done that but it also offers you an opportunity to interact one-on-one which is where you often shine. Yep, you don't have to work in a group or face to face with people. You can work with them 1-2-1 remotely. A good mentor understands this. I know, because I meet my mentor twice a year for dinner, and once a month remotely. He understands and respects my need for space. It's one of the reasons I hired him over all the other choices.
- Accept help when offered and delegate when necessary.
Anytime someone is willing to help you grow your business, it’s a great thing. Once you reach a point where you have a team or employees working for you, don’t hesitate to delegate tasks that pull you away from the focus of growing your business and cultivating key relationships with clients, vendors, and staff. When you have a team (or staff) you get to focus on the important things. The energy-draining minutiae is left to other people to sort out – it's their job. Not sure where yo start with delegating. Hire a cleaner for your house. Have someone come in for 2 or 3 hours a week to free up your time. Freaking out at the thought of this? It's time to book a mentor and work through your issues.
- Schedule your own time-outs and opportunities to recharge.
Even when working long hours to build your business, as an introvert, you will need time away from the crowd so you can relax and recharge. It isn’t merely a matter of resting. It’s about finding quiet moments away from the “noise” and chaos of owning and operating a business and interacting with so many other people. This is a must. Schedule it in, because if you don't you'll find you what to throw it all away.
- Don’t try to change who you are. Work to your strengths instead of focusing on your weaknesses.
So many introverts allow others to convince them it is necessary to change in order to own a successful business. The truth is, the traits that are essential to your nature as an introvert can be essential to your success in business. Don’t change in order to achieve success; simply find a way to make your own noise in a world that always seems to be talking.
- Choose a business that works for you.
One of the biggest gifts you can give yourself as an introverted entrepreneur is a career path that plays to your strengths rather than firmly planting you outside of your comfort zone. There are many careers that are ideal for people who are introverted by nature. SmallBizTrends offers an impressive list that includes a few careers you might find appealing, such as:
- Dog walking, grooming, etc.
- Creating apps
- Translating services
- Virtual assistant
- Visual artist (pottery, painting, sculpting, etc.)
As you can see, there are plenty of career choices that allow you to start your own business and grow it without stepping too far outside of your natural tendencies as an introvert.
- Avoid making rash decisions.
This is something most introverts do instinctively. However, you could be pushed or prodded into doing something for your business that you haven’t thought through yet if you aren’t careful. Don’t let that happen to you. Take your time and carefully consider your options when making decisions that affect your business. If it helps, give yourself a deadline to make a decision. Tell yourself you'll have an answer in 24 hours. Give yourself the space you need to make the right decisions.
- Surround yourself with the right people.
Surround yourself with people you can trust, first and foremost. These are the people you’re building your business with. Beyond that, surround yourself with people who have different skillsets and characteristics than you. This allows you to get sage advice from the people who work for you and is essential when it comes to areas where you have less experience or knowledge. It can be one of the most important business decisions you’ll make.
Be careful not to surround yourself with sycophants or “yes” people. You want people who will help you make the right business decisions. when you surround yourself with only agreeable people you miss the obvious. This too is a lesson that I learned from experience.
- Master the fine art of building relationships.
Building relationships is essential in the world of business. You must build relationships with the customers who buy your products or use your services. You must also build relationships with the people who work with you, vendors who serve your business needs, and others who can help you grow your business over time. It takes dedication and work for introverts, who tend to keep their “tribes” small, but the rewards are huge for your business and they offer you opportunities to grow your tribe a little bit in the process.
- Adapt when necessary.
Adapt and overcome. These are two of the most important life skills you’ll ever learn. Introverts do not excel at the traditional methods of growing businesses. This means you must adapt your business model to account for that and seek new ways to help your business grow. The faster you begin incorporating new ideas for growth and expansion into your business model, the sooner you’ll be able to reap the rewards of doing so.
- Consider partnering with charismatic extroverts.
Steve Wozniak is a man not everyone has heard of. However, he is the brains behind one of the most successful brands in modern history: Apple. Most people equate Steve Jobs with the brand. If Wozniak was the brains behind the brand, Jobs was its face. Steve Wozniak is a famous introvert while the far more charismatic Jobs was very much the quintessential extrovert. This partnership made both men fantastically wealthy and counted among the most successful in their industry. While you may not have a Steve Jobs to partner with, you can find your own Mr. or Ms. Charisma to help you get the attention your brand needs to grow while you are left to be the creative genius behind the scenes.
- Go one-on-one whenever possible.
You are much better at working with people one-on-one than dealing with large or medium-sized groups. Go to that familiar territory and let your own spark shine. Working with customers individually makes them feel special and valued in a way that large group discussions will never accomplish. More importantly, it allows you to be completely in your comfort zone so you can focus on the task at hand instead of how uncomfortable you are.
- Play up your strengths.
Do what you do best and do it well. Ultimately, that is what will set you apart in business. Let your strength be the main selling point for your organization and don’t let others convince you to focus on your weaknesses, or the areas where you are less confident. Your strengths make you special. Confidence can be built over time. If you’re faking confidence you don’t feel, however, you risk coming across as inauthentic with your target audience and that could alienate the very people you’re attempting to bring into the fold.
- Improve your communication skills.
Take classes on public speaking to help you deliver better lectures. Improve your writing with online courses. Listen intently and make sure you’re sending the appropriate messages in response. The more effectively you communicate with your employees, vendors, and customers the better it is for your continued success.
- Start small when building your business.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither, in fact, were Apple, Microsoft, Nike, or Pizza Hut. It takes time and dedication to build a business. One thing most big businesses have in common, though, is that once upon a time, they were small businesses.
Don’t try to make your first million dollars in your first year. Instead, focus on incremental, sustainable growth over time. This gives you plenty of room to grow and helps you keep the focus on providing the best products and/or services every step of the way.
- Define your own style. It’s your business; make it your own.
You’re pouring your heart and soul into building your business. There are pieces of you in every aspect of your business. Don’t fret over the secrets to success someone else followed 10 or 20 years ago to succeed. Define your own style and own that style as you build your business.
That doesn’t mean you should not be willing to take advice or be coachable. It does mean that you shouldn’t have to change major aspects of who you are to accommodate someone else’s idea of what your business should be.
- Use the Internet to grow your business and reach new audiences.
Introverts today have one tool that wasn’t widely available to help you grow your business two or three decades ago. It may be the single most important tool for introverts to wield when growing a business. It is the World Wide Web. The Internet offers substantial opportunities for growth and success that weren’t available in the not-so-distant past, especially with the wildfire growth of social media.
Use the Internet as an essential platform for growing your business. For introverts, the Internet is the perfect tool for reaching out to others without requiring your physical presence.
- Live outside of your comfort zone.
Your comfort zone is something you’re going to have to plant firmly in your past for success in business, however. It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert or an extrovert. Every successful business owner has to, on occasion, embrace the other side of the equation to make things happen for your business. In fact, you’ll find it happens more often than you care to admit.
Something else happens, though, when you do step outside your normal comfort zone and routines. You grow; not only as a business owner or entrepreneur, but as a person as well. The rewards may be epic if you allow them to be.
- Listen to your intuition when it’s trying to tell you something.
One thing introverts have going for them is an incredible ability to listen. Most of the time your impressive listening abilities are tuned outward to other people in your circle. However, when you’re working to grow your business you need to learn to listen to yourself and your own instincts as keenly as you listen to the advice and recommendations of others around you. Don’t dismiss it when your intuition is trying to tell you something. You may regret pushing that tiny voice aside.
- Introverts seek depth over breadth.
As an introvert, you prefer to go deep —delving into issues and ideas before moving on to the next ones. You prefer meaningful conversations over chit-chat and small talk which you find superficial at times. You know how to tune in and listen to others so use this superpower. If you prefer writing to talking forget the podcast and focus on your blogging. Choose e-mail over the phone and arrange your business systems so that you can focus on your strengths, rather than what other people do.
- Be intentional every step of the way.
Social media offers excellent opportunities to grow your business. Resist the urge, for instance, to overshare. Having a plan in place for your actions as a business owner is as important as your word on social media. Be intentional in the actions you take on behalf of your business to achieve sustainable growth.
Yes, you, too, can be a successful business owner even if you are a dedicated introvert. These 21 ways will help but your natural tendencies for thoughtful discourse, mindfulness, and careful listening will be your biggest assets when it comes to growing your business
What would you add to this list so introverts like us can enjoy business more?